This past week was National Dance Week. We aren't a Dance School, but we sure are a School that loves to Dance! Enjoy reading this beautiful post written by the lovely Ms. Zoe, our in-house Dance teacher, among many other things, who reflects on not just Dance Week, but the embrace of originality here at VVA. It brought tears to our eyes reading it! Thank you so much, Ms. Zoe, for al the gifts you bring. We are a lucky bunch!
Dance is probably one of the most innate forms of language. From the time that we are young, it seems like such a natural response to allow our bodies to speak through movement. I can still remember the absolute weightless feeling of flailing my limbs about, in no particular fashion; mimicking flight. Each motion completely my own invention from the curl of my fingertips, to the point of my toes. This is what it felt like to be absolutely free and move with complete authenticity. As we get older, social pressures act as inhibitors to this freedom of movement. We become more controlled, more in our heads, and less in our hearts. Yet, still it’s there…the natural inclination to tap one’s foot, or to gently sway from side to side. It lives and breaths within each of us.
For generations dance has joined communities together, through social connection and communication. For some it’s been seen as a spiritual experience. It is tied to our culture and allows history to carry on throughout generations. Most importantly, it transcends the limits of social factors, and allows us to just be in union with each other in our most natural beautiful state…happy and free.
I am so lucky to get to experience the joy of dance on a daily basis working at VVA. When I was first asked to instruct the dance class at VVA, I was a little apprehensive. Would the students really want to dance so frequently? I was pleasantly surprised to find how eager students of all ages were to have the opportunity to express themselves through this unique art form. From the vivacious pre-k’s who throw their bodies about with liberty, to the mindful teenager who forgets to “be cool” for a moment, while practising their favourite corny dance moves. From the impromptu dance circles that erupt at lunch like a Disney musical, to the heartfelt story telling expressed through showcase dance routines… dance is everywhere in our halls.
In discussing what we would do to celebrate National Dance Week here at VVA, I became aware of just how much dance is part of our school culture. In registering for Dance Nova Scotia’s ‘Dare to Dance’ challenge, we needed to have our whole school dance for 20 minutes together. This is of course something that happens all of the time at our school, without even questioning it. We ultimately decided on some classic line dances, followed by a student-led “dance circle” that invited each student to showcase their unique abilities. As I watched our students so naturally form their “whole-school dance circle” with appreciation for each unique individual, I realized how very lucky I am to be a part of a school community where students feel free to be completely themselves.
Watching these children move with such truth and joy has encouraged me to get back to my own natural roots of dancing, of which I’d cloistered for so long. Years of formal dance training had made me focus on perfection, and I’d forgotten what it felt like to experience dance as a pure outpouring of the soul. There’s no greater joy than dancing freely with the kids, not caring how silly I look. I honestly think the more ridiculous that I am, the more the kids enjoy it. Perhaps we can all take a lesson from these young dancers about what it means to live creatively, and authentically. Perhaps the only thing that we need to do in order to keep that spark of innocence alive throughout our lives, is to just keep on dancing!
With all my heart,
In keeping with the theme of National Dance Week, I asked each of my dances classes to share what they love about dance. Here are some of their thoughtful responses:
Dragonfly & Manta Ray Class (pk-1)
“Dancing makes me really, really, really happy!” -Regan
“Dancing feels so good and gives me exercise.” -Mason
“Dance is exciting!” -Bria
“I like playing freeze dance.” -Christopher
Melksham Monsters & Kronosaurus Class (grade 2-6)
“When I dance, I feel like I’m in another universe, and I’m the only one in it” -Greyson
“Even when I’m sad, dancing makes me happy.” -Ariella
“I like dancing because it makes me feel good about myself.” -Victoria
“I like dancing because I get to have fun!” -Olivia
“I love doing dance circles with my friends” -Kathleen
“Dancing makes me feel calm.” -Simeon
“Dancing takes me to a different world.” -Amelia
“When I dance, I feel like there’s nothing else around me.” -Payton
Megalodon Class (grade 7-9)
“When I’m dancing, I can just be myself. I don’t have to put on a face for anyone.” -Liv
“When you get into the groove you lose the negativity in your life.”- A.J
Please join us in welcoming Ms. Hilary to the VVA team! We are excited to announce the start of an exciting year with Hilary on board! Ms. Hilary joined us early September as VVA's first ever Program Coordinator - directing after school programming, managing extra programming within the school, supporting students and teachers wherever she can. We are all sooooo thrilled to have her! And, we are extremely grateful to have found such a unique and wonderful soul to join our VVA team. We are ALSO excited she shared with you a personal passion of hers. A true delight to read! Hilary's kindness, understanding, and experiences make her an excellent support for our school. Enjoy!
Remember art class as a child in school?
Approximately once a week, it was a time to dedicated to exploring artistic ability. Remember sliding your tiny little fingers across the white sheet of paper covered in way too much paint? Mixing colors, using markers, stickers and adding just a splash, or maybe more, of glitter. Remember how proud you were to bring it home and post it on the family fridge or your own bedroom wall? Maybe you gave it as a gift because you loved it so very much and knew the receiver would love it just as much as you did (even if it wasn't quite true!).
As a child I too experienced this joy of art. Having an artist father, I felt more drawn to it than most of my peers. As an adult, I developed a love for abstract painting. I had experienced a surgical procedure which left me nearly incapacitated. Being in a place where i had no control and was confined to my home, placed a strain on my mental well being. I began to explore art as I once did as a child and adolescent and in doing so, discovered a new passion that eased my angst at being housebound and isolated. I could escape for hours into my medium of choice and lose myself in the process. The zen-like state that I achieved, I believe, greatly improved my healing journey.
I was able to lose myself in the fluidity of Abstract painting. It allowed me to escape into a meditative flow, letting my worries disappear. It aided my concentration, lessened my anxiety, and assisted me in letting go of the tension I was holding due to my circumstances. This form of art allows one to just simply let go and observe the way in which the paint chooses to flow...allowing the artist to simply enjoy the essence of being one with your canvas and your paint. Even the process of mixing your paints can create a zen experience, giving your mind a break from its regular reel.
Art has so many benefits for us all:
• Letting go
• Moving forward
Art is a creative way to fully immerse yourself into what you are feeling. It allows you to create a zen space to clear and quiet the mind. It doesn’t come at the snap of your fingers and there are so many different styles of art.
I used art as a form of therapy and it has been a great success. Being introduced to art from a young age I was able to tap into it as an adult to cope. It allowed me to move forward in the healing process.
I believe that art can have a similar, yet greater impact on the minds and hearts of children. Children who have trauma or have complex needs often find ways to express complex emotions through art that they may not be able to articulate verbally. It provides a release of pent up energy in some children as they become lost in the creative process, in whichever medium they are involved. The joy in a child's face when they can learn how to create a piece of art to which they can relate and/or share with a loved one, is priceless.
Children are proud of their creativity, and often, undiscovered talents are brought to light when children are permitted to play artistically, with no encumbrances or preconceived notions.
I believe that art not only speaks to children, but that it gives them a voice that may not otherwise be heard. As adults, we only need pay attention to what they might be saying, while remembering that sometimes, the only expression being shown is joy!
Please welcome our youngest writers in the school! Ages 4 and 5, our Pre-K & K class, with the help of their teacher, Ms. Meghan, has written their first blog post! Hint: Our classes pick their own class names for the year. This year, the youngest and smallest decided to pick Pygmy Shrew as their class animal! Other classes are the Coyotes, Bobcats and Moose. Common language for Via Vita, but we realize the rest of the world has no idea what we're talking about! Enjoy the read, straight from the mouths of our youngest, and especially inquisitive, students!
One day the Pygmy Shrews went to school. We wake up at home and we get dressed in Via Vita Clothes. Then we eat breakfast so we don’t get hungry. We get in our car and go to Via Vita. We get our jacket and boots off, then get your lunch box and bring it into the gym. Then you play in the gym with toys and friends and with imagination. After a little while we clean up then go upstairs for Morning Meeting. We sit quietly with everyone in the school and put your hand up if you have to say something. We have a morning talk and we talk about suff that’s going on and what is happening. We then read the quote and its about hard stuff and its about anything, important things, so we can learn. Then we sing O’ Canada and start the day.
We read books, like Annie and Jack’s story, and we go on Epic! to read whatever we want. We can’t go on other peoples things, but we can watch other peoples books. We like books about kitties, big foot, and dogs, and sharks! We draw pictures about what we read and then we sit in a circle and tell about what we drew.
Before we leave the room we have to do our sight words. We wash our hands and we sit with any of our friends in the whole school, like the big kids. We play outside in the snow, hide and seek, sledding, and throwing snowballs at everyone but we don’t hurt them, we throw it at their legs.
We go inside and the big kids help us hang our coats and snow pants up and we line out boots up against the wall. With our teacher we do our weather, the things of the day like the calendar and numbers. Then we draw a picture and write of anything that we like!
In the kitchen, we get dishes out, we stir up the food to make it mixed all together. We can cut stuff too but we use these round things to cut, knifes are sharp, be careful! We put some stuff in the oven, or it goes in the heater on top. The food is yummy and tasty. It can be sour, yummy sometimes. We make cakes for birthdays for everyone, and sing with candles and it’s happy!
We learn about the world so we know what’s around and so when we go somewhere, we know stuff like how stuff is made.
Gym can be Taekwon-do where we kick and punch, but not at people. It can be outside at the playground to play. We do Yoga adventures. Sometimes it is with the big kids, and sometimes the big kids show us how to do stuff they can do. We like to play with them because they help us and they are fun.
The other teachers come and teach us, too! Ms. Adele does music and we sing, dance, play games like pretend, and we practice what we’re going to do for the next show. Ms. Yolanda does art like painting and colouring and cutting. Ms. Alicia does French and we say Bonjour, and Merci. We do french songs. She also does patterns and math.
At the end of the day we do Chores. Like clean the kitchen, sweeping the floors, vacuuming upstairs and downstairs, wipe the walls, clean the stairs, clean the sinks, flush the toilets, and wipe down tables. The yuckiest job is compost because its smelly and yucky. The best job is vacuuming, toilets, wiping the whiteboards. Those are easy peasy!
Then we go home, but sometimes we don’t want to. We want to stay at Via Vita. It’s fun!
Welcome to Our Blog
Each post is written by a supportive member of Via Vita Academy, be it a teacher, parent, student, community member, who is invested in the topic of education. Take a read and comment below!